Blogs for September, 2013
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
checkout the archived city farm blog articles to learn about our takes on farm & city life
Confession: I have looked at my smartphone, at a Facebook message, while in the midst of a conversation with another human being. A live, in-person human interaction, and because they weren’t clicking “like” every time I made a statement, I felt the need to see that others WERE.
Psychology Today is so reassuring: I am an addict. Yep. Recent research tells us “instead of dopamine causing you to experience pleasure … dopamine causes seeking behavior. Dopamine causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. It increases your general level of arousal and your goal-directed behavior. From an evolutionary stand-point this is critical. The dopamine seeking system keeps you motivated to move through your world, learn, and survive. It’s not just about physical needs such as food, or sex, but also about abstract concepts. Dopamine makes you curious about ideas and fuels your searching for information. Research shows that it is the opioid system (separate from dopamine) that makes us feel pleasure.
“According to researcher Kent Berridge, these two systems, the “wanting” (dopamine) and the “liking” (opioid) are complementary. The wanting system propels you to action and the liking system makes you feel satisfied and therefore pause your seeking. If your seeking isn’t turned off at least for a little while, then you start to run in an endless loop. The dopamine system is stronger than the opioid system. You tend to seek more than you are satisfied. Evolution again — seeking is more likely to keep you alive than sitting around in a satisfied stupor.” (Psychology Today)
Seeking online things to keep us motivated can be a good thing, unless it interrupts real-life human interaction, which I see too often. Have you ever Instagrammed a hike in nature so thoroughly, you can’t actually remember looking at the trail, listening to the birds, freezing in your tracks to marvel at a butterfly’s color?
Like any addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem, right? So put down your phone. (Seriously. Put it DOWN. Turn it OFF.) It doesn’t have to be for a long time, especially as you start to wean yourself. What can you do without a panic attack today? An hour? Two? Fifteen minutes?
Remember when we didn’t have mobile phones, or when they were so unwieldy, we didn’t pop them in our pockets? Reading the HuffPo’s “Habits of Supremely Happy People,” one may notice, obsessively refreshing social media is NOT listed. However, appreciating the simple pleasures in life IS listed.
So let’s do this together. Even if you’re reading this ON your phone, finish this paragraph, and then turn it off. Plan phone-free time with friends, or with your dog, or with nature. Pay attention to what you’re thankful for, the little things in life, like a cloud formation that looks like your second-grade school teacher’s beehive. Or the sound of silence, or the sound of your own breath, or the sound of a friend’s laugh.
And then, after it’s done, use social media for what it’s good for – share your moment with us, and encourage us all to unplug a bit, and find more happiness in the present. @TheCityFarm
Hiking up the “hidden staircases” of Los Angeles, I realized I was looking into the lives of all the people whose homes and backyards butt up against public property – all while an iPhone app tour guide led us to eavesdrop on neighbors’ daily life and dinner plans.
Phone app voice: “As you walk up the ‘Music Box Staircase,’ pause to read the plaque that references the Laurel and Hardy film in which they delivered a piano (aka ‘music box’) to the top of these stairs.” Woman in kitchen mid-way up stairs – “We’re having chicken tonight. I don’t care if you’re tired of it.”
Living in the close quarters of a city creates community, whether you like it or not. But if you purposely want to enhance your backyard living, but don’t have the space, Modern Farmer suggests you team with your neighbors to share and grow a bigger, better, community yard. Perhaps one house has the fantastic grill, fire pit, and picnic area? While another has the perfect light to grow the garden that adds tomatoes, lettuces, and peppers to the BBQ? In a piece titled “How to Design a Shared Backyard,” Virginia C. McGuire talks tools – what to own, what to share, where to plant a well-lit community garden, and how to navigate the risks of sharing and swapping time, money, and effort.
One of my friends lives in a dreamy neighborhood in Long Beach where the kids run between houses, and parents count on each other to keep track of their limbs, bikes, and bruises. Do you live in a space-sharing neighborhood? Are you trying to create more community in your cul-de-sac? We’d love to hear your ideas of growing greener and friendlier plots of land in your area. Start a conversation here in our comment section, or on Twitter @RebeccaSnavely and @TheCityFarm.
And if you have a croquet set and yard, I’m moving in.
I spent the weekend in the City of Roses (Portland, OR), so it seemed only right to visit the rose garden. Walking down the tiers of grass and mounds of mulch that show off new varieties of roses in the International Rose Test Garden, I was amazed by the intricacies of color and overwhelmed by the scent of the wild ones.
I wonder if any bride on a budget has been tempted to break in after hours, guerrilla gardener shears in hand, to sneak off with a gorgeous bridal bouquet?
Surrounded by beautiful blooms, I dreamed of taking some home, too, bringing the garden into my apartment to brighten my desk, mantle, and kitchen table with rich shades of corals and purples. Up on the hill, a little away from the roses, there was also a hydrangea in bloom, surrounded by ferns, that could turn my workspace into a reminder of my weekend away.
Growing up walking trails in the woods, I was always told never to take anything home – as lovely as a blooming flower may be, and as tempting as it was to take to enjoy it for hours on end, I had to leave it for other hikers to see its wild beauty. Growing and cutting flowers out of my own garden feels like a guilty pleasure. I love bringing the outdoors in.
Do you have a cutting garden as part of your green space? What do you grow? My friend harvested sweet peas and gave them to me in a big, fragrant riot of color, reds, oranges, yellows and purples tumbling out of a blue teapot. Check out a list of easy-to-grow flowers that make great bouquets at gardeners.com – including asters (September’s flower), sunflowers, and dahlias, a few of my favorite flowers. The author has tips on growing your own cutting garden, *maybe* a better idea for those brides on a budget than risking going to flower garden jail.
Dog Day Afternoon…What a perfect way to spend an afternoon sorting through the hundreds of dog pictures I have taken over the years. These will be regular posts giving you a chance to meet these wonderful dogs. Some have long since passed, some are new into my life and have many more photo shoots left in them.
This cute little long haired dachshund was called Oscar and he had a brother called Mayer. They were trained movie dogs and belonged to Studio Animal Services where they were trained and went on many jobs for TV shows and commercials.
Is your garden starting to fade into fall? Add a splash of color with asters, September’s birth flower that can be wee at just 8 inches, or a statement piece at 8 feet, depending on the type you choose.
Asters have a star-studded backstory: named from the Greek word aster, meaning “star,” there is a myth that the Greek God Virgo, saddened by the lack of stars in the sky, began to cry. As she cried, lovely aster flowers began to grow where her tears fell. (ProFlowers.com)
Asters are a hardy perennial, thriving in sunshine, but they prefer moist summers, so those of us in dryer regions need to water them often. However, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, they are sensitive souls, and can be overwatered as well. I’ve noticed that watering | pruning | feeding my plants becomes practice in paying attention. Similar to cultivating a friendship (and yes, I’m that lady who names her plants) you’ll start to learn what they need, and how they respond to water and sunlight. If you’re over or under-watering your asters, you’ll notice them showing stress if they lose their lower foliage or don’t flower well, and you can adjust accordingly.
Asters do well outdoors, attracting butterflies to your yard, or indoors, especially to grow from seeds to plant in the spring, thus making great gifts for the green-thumbed Virgo in your life. Virgos are known for their logical thinking and wisdom, and the aster, their birth flower, represents patience. Does that ring true for your friends?
Check out The Old Farmer’s Almanac for more growing tips, and tell us in the comments or on Twitter if you’re adding asters to your garden or gifting them to a friend for September. We love to see photos – send ‘em our way @TheCityFarm & @RebeccaSnavely
(Photo: Indiana Public Media)
I’ve been wanting to try The City Farm’s Lemon Cake Mix for a while. I finally got around to it today. It was so easy to make…I only had to add butter, eggs, and a fresh lemon…all things most of us have on hand in the fridge. It was delicious! There’s none left!
I love how the Lemon Cake Mix is packaged…all wrapped up in a pretty lemon design tea towel.
The only thing you need to add is butter, eggs, some fresh lemon juice and some lemon zest.
I added some lemon zest to the glaze, but you really don’t need it.
Click the Buy Now button and this delicious Lemon Cake can be yours! Enjoy
Happy September! Fall is in the air, or maybe that’s just my wishful thinking and perusing of Toast’s autumn line of warm coats and knee-high boots. Here in Southern California, we’re cooling off a bit (80s!), and after a week of 90+ days, that’s reason enough to dream of cooler fall weather. With kids and grad students stuffing their backpacks with books, it’s beginning to look a lot like autumn.
As fall arrives, I start to slow down and look forward to darker nights filled with books to read and more time for wooly thoughts. What does your garden look like it settles in to fall? Do you worry that you’re post-growing season, and will have to spend more time in the grocery aisles, calculating the air and truck miles from where your greens were grown?
Get back to your garden, it’s not too late to plant! Check out Colleen Vanderlinden’s post on TreeHugger.com to find what there’s still time to sow in your region, from spinach and arugula to Bok Choy and radishes for colorful fall stews and salads. My dream future farmhouse looks a lot like this, with a long table to entertain friends and family in the fall.
Fall is also Vata season, according to the Ayurvedic tradition, a way of life which tells us that eating what grows in season is not only a way to live more locally, but also the best way to find balance within your body and the colder climes and windier days of fall. Yoganonymous offers tips for eating in autumn, to help you stay rooted to earth. One of my favorite parts of the fall is color: warm reds, oranges, and browns. The site highlights that “colors contribute greatly to balance in the body. According to Ayurveda, everything in the universe is energetic and gives off a vibration, colors too. Since autumn is a cooler season, one can balance this climate by turning to warmer, richer hues — yellows, oranges and reds. Nature sets the example, wearing her deep reds and burnt oranges to balance the coolness that surrounds.”